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Your Ultimate Southern California Super Tuesday and 2024 California Primary Election Guide


LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- This year's California primary election includes some high-profile races impacting Southern California, as well as the presidential primary and other statewide races.


Here are some key local and statewide races to keep an eye on March 5:


California Presidential Primary

Donald Trump is strongly favored by Republicans in California. It's possible he could sweep the state's trove of 169 delegates, the biggest prize in the nominating contest. Heavily Democratic California probably will be an afterthought in November 2024 - the state's lopsided electorate makes it a virtual lock for Democrats on Election Day. The last Republican presidential nominee to carry the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Senate

California's Senate race was expected to be a three-way Democratic prizefight, but the possibility of a record-low turnout is elevating the chances of Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star, and could derail the congressional careers of two prominent progressives. For months, Rep. Adam Schiff has had the fundraising and polling edge in a crowded Democratic field. Garvey's ascent has imperiled the political prospects of Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. The top two finishers in the March 5 contest, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November.


Proposition 1: Gavin Newsom's Mental Health Plan

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging voters to approve a ballot initiative that he says is needed to tackle the state's homelessness crisis, a change social providers say would threaten programs that keep people from becoming homeless in the first place. In 2004, voters approved legislation that imposed a tax on millionaires to finance mental health services, generating $2 billion to $3 billion in revenue each year that has mostly gone to counties to fund mental health programs as they see fit under broad guidelines. Newsom wants to give the state more control over how that money is spent. Proposition 1 would require counties to spend 60% of those funds on housing and programs for homeless people with serious mental illnesses or substance abuse problems.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

Los Angeles County voters are set to decide if embattled District Attorney George Gascón will remain the head of the nation's largest prosecutor's office. There have been two failed attempts to get Gascón on the ballot for a recall. Gascón faces 11 challengers in the March 5 nonpartisan primary. The race has essentially become a referendum on the perception of safety in Los Angeles County. Blaring headlines and footage of brazen smash-and-grab robberies at luxury stores have painted a picture of lawlessness. But in 2023, violent crime decreased more than 3% in the city of Los Angeles and nearly 1.5% in the county compared to the year before.


City of Los Angeles Measure HLA

This measure would require the city to make street and sidewalk improvements designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists from cars on more than 2,500 miles of Los Angeles city streets. It would add more bike lanes, bus-only lanes and pedestrian-friendly features to streets. Proponents say it would help reduce crashes and protect cyclists. Opponents, however, argue that it would reduce lanes for car traffic, making the city streets more congested and in some cases more dangerous. Firefighters, for example, say it could slow their response time to emergencies. City analysts say it would cost billions of dollars for taxpayers.


Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 4

Incumbent Janice Hahn is facing a challenge from the county's controversial former sheriff, Alex Villanueva. Hahn and other board members clashed sharply with Villanueva during his single term as sheriff over issues such as control over deputy gangs, and his resistance to oversight by the county.

Villanueva lost his bid for re-election in 2022 to Robert Luna marking a rare defeat for an incumbent sheriff in Los Angeles County.

Hahn and her family have a long history of holding public office in the South Bay area and the city of Los Angeles. She has sat on the county board since 2016 and before that was a member of the Los Angeles City Council. She also served in Congress from 2011 to 2016 but left to run for county supervisor. Her father Kenneth Hahn represented the area as a county supervisor for 40 years and her brother James served as mayor of Los Angeles from 2001 to 2005.

Los Angeles City Council, District 14

City Council members typically don't have a difficult time retaining their seats once they win their first election. But incumbent Councilman Kevin de León has become a controversial figure in the past year, ever since audio recordings leaked of him making racially charged comments during a private meeting about council redistricting. Participants in that conversation faced calls to resign and in fact former Council president Nury Martinez did step down from her seat. Councilman Gil Cedillo had already lost his bid for re-election at that point, and was out of office once his term expired in December.

But de León resisted protesters in City Council chambers and not only stayed in office but defiantly declared his intent to run for re-election. He is now facing challenges from seven candidates, including Assembly members Miguel Santiago and Wendy Carrillo.

Congress - Key SoCal House Races

District 27

Rep. Mike Garcia is the last Republican congressman anchored in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County. The once-conservative 27th District running through the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys north of Los Angeles has become one of the country's most competitive battlefields.

The district has a 12-point Democratic registration edge but over three elections Garcia has shown an uncanny ability to overcome the odds and confound rivals. It hasn't been easy - Garcia was reelected in 2020 by 333 votes.

The former Navy fighter pilot and Trump supporter with a reliably conservative voting record was first elected running against California's liberal-leaning government: "I don't want my country to turn into what my state has become."

Garcia's military service - he flew over 30 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom - would play well in a district that is home to defense industries and popular with veterans and Los Angeles police officers and firefighters. The son of a Mexican immigrant father, his Hispanic surname is likely a benefit in a district with a significant Latino population. He also has displayed a keen ear for local issues, including concerns over crime and illegal marijuana cultivation.

The leading Democrat in the primary is George Whitesides, a former NASA chief of staff supported by the campaign arm of House Democrats. He's been stressing abortion rights and environmental protection and labeling Garcia as out of step with the district.

District 30

Adam Schiff has represented this district since 2001 but is vacating the seat to focus on his bid for U.S. Senate. The heavily Democratic district includes areas of Los Angeles and the eastern San Fernando Valley including Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, as well as Tujunga and West Hollywood.

A wide field of candidates is seeking the open seat. Among the more prominent names are former Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, LAUSD board member Nick Melvoin, state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and "Boy Meets World" actor Ben Savage.

District 31

Rep. Grace Napolitano has represented this area in Congress since 1999, though her district's number has changed over the years because of redistricting. At 87, Napolitano is the oldest sitting member of Congress and announced last year that she would retire at the end of her current term. The Democratic district includes parts of the San Gabriel Valley including La Puente, San Dimas, El Monte and Monrovia.

The open seat has attracted a field of 11 candidates. Among them: former congressman Gil Cisneros, who became a multimillionaire and philanthropist after winning a $266 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2010 and recently served as an undersecretary for defense in the Biden administration; Bob Archuleta, a state senator representing parts of LA and Orange counties; Susan Rubio, a state senator in the Baldwin park area; and Mary Ann Lutz, a former councilmember and mayor in Monrovia and current member of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees.

District 45

Republican Rep. Michelle Steel, a South Korean immigrant, is looking for another term in a Southern California district specifically drawn to give Asian Americans a stronger voice on Capitol Hill. Asian Americans comprise the largest group in the 45th District, anchored in Orange County. Democrats hold a modest registration edge.

Steel first won the seat in 2020, then prevailed in 2022 with a 5-point win in the district, which includes the nation's largest Vietnamese community.

Four Democrats are competing this year, including Kim Nguyen-Penaloza, the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee father and a Mexican immigrant mother who was endorsed by the state Democratic Party, and lawyer and worker rights advocate Derek Tran, the son of Vietnamese refugees.

In Congress, Steel has been outspoken in resistance to tax increases, says she stands strongly with Israel in its war with Hamas and sponsored a bill that would expand oversight related to foreign money in higher education, which passed the House last year.

The race will be watched nationally for hints about the preferences of Asian American voters.

District 47

Orange County's 47th District runs along the coast southeast of Los Angeles and was once the heart of "Reagan Country," a region long synonymous with conservative politics and known for its ties to the former president. But the county that was once largely white and Republican has grown demographically diverse and increasingly Democratic, and the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, a U.S. Senate candidate, is up for grabs.

Republicans consider it a top target.

Former legislator Scott Baugh, who narrowly lost to Porter in 2022, is the leading Republican, while two Democrats are dueling to get on the November ballot, state Sen. David Min and Joanna Weiss, who founded an organization that promotes progressive candidates.

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